HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 593: 7 December2011

Wonks produce wonky vision
I have already labeled the CIP government’s economic taskforce wish list of $618 million as ridiculous. Now I sit here reading the newly published Budget Policy Statement (BPS) setting out the medium term priorities and shake my head again. The BPS is a continued waste of time, energy and resources spent to produce another wish list when the economists tell us that the next three years will be so lean that next year’s operating budget will provide only $624,000 in extra funds to be divided up among all the current and new priorities.
Of course I notice that the public service functional review cut backs are already on the way with reduced personnel costs budgeted. Current costs are sitting at 41.5% and by 2014 these will be cut back to 37.6%. The CIP is clearly thinking about job cuts in the public service.
One can speculate where the job cuts will come from – I’m not expecting that the members of Cabinet or the Financial Secretary are proposing pay cuts to their own positions so I assume more Cook Islanders will be deemed unworthy to hold jobs by the CIP and that they will come from the rank and file of Democratic Party supporters and those most vulnerable living in the outer islands.
Does all this have the nasty memory of 1997? Another diaspora as our bright talents elect to move away rather than stay in their home islands to provide leadership to the already weakened and vulnerable. Depopulation is expected to be ramped up by the CIP government.
I always believe a nation should be judged by how it takes care of its most vulnerable - its young, disabled, the elderly, and even how we treat our environment and animals.
Reading the BPS and the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) we should all be alarmed at the failure of this CIP government to recognize the over reliance on tourism to fill the government coffers. It has missed an important opportunity to support greater economic participation and productivity in light of the continued pressure of rising costs. For all it’s adherence to early planning and preparation, neither the BPS and its supporting HYEFU are visionary and progressive.
From a political standpoint, the CIP should act bold and visionary, but when one reads the document it does not sound like it was written by politicians. It sounds like it was written by policy wonks who are out of touch with the electorate and the document has some editorial mistakes. The Brown Tax revenue will continue to be collected in 2013-14 and 2014-15 despite the Minister of Finance stating in the media that it will be removed after two years.
My colleagues in the Democratic Party caucus think the CIP Cabinet have shares in Air New Zealand, hence the nick name the Touring Ministers. The fact is we contribute more to the New Zealand economy than we do to our own and until we change this reliance on imports of goods, services, labor and investment from overseas there is little point in the international relationships made by the globe trotting Minister of Finance on his visits to Korea and Africa this past week.
The time is ripe to be making choices that protect our own. The impacts of crises overseas are unrelenting. Our planning needs to understand that but our choices of how we invest need to be based on our reality, not what is going on overseas.
On behalf of my family I would like to wish everybody the best for the festive season as from next week the Hon Wilkie Rasmussen, Deputy Leader will be providing more thoughtful comment about the nations affairs during my absence for medical reasons. -Leader of the Opposition, Robert Wigmore

A Salute to the Cook Islands Red Cross
Now boasting 16 staffers and 300 volunteers, the Cook Islands Red Cross serves roughly 13,000 people over 15 small islands.
“What amazes me about the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is that you can be a big National Society, or you can be a small one, but you have the same rights and responsibilities to take part in decisions and to assist the vulnerable,” says Niki Rattle, who began as a nurse volunteer in 1993 and now serves as secretary general.
It was a privilege as Prime Minister to support Niki’s unanimous nomination as chairperson of the 31st Red Cross Red Crescent Conference held in Geneva last month. With close to 2000 international delegates in attendance, her nomination was a historical first for our country and for the Pacific.
The Cook Islands has been very active in supporting the Red Cross and promoting respect for international humanitarian law over the past year. Our efforts have not gone unrecognised by other countries.
As well as issues related to humanitarian law the agenda for the 31st conference was a response to the worldwide increase in the number and impact of natural disasters and related displacement.
The Cook Islands Red Cross is committed to preparing for most natural disasters that may happen in terms of response, such as satellite phones, trained staff and a well-stocked relief supply.
The outer islands are the most vulnerable to natural disasters hence the need to better prepare them in disaster management, community based health and first aid, trauma management, communications and management of relief items.
In 2009 the Cook Islands Red Cross assisted the outer islands in minimizing the impact of dengue fever by answering calls for assistance from Aitutaki and Mauke.
The following year an Emergency Response Team was deployed to Aitutaki to assess initial damage caused by Cyclone Pat, to distribute relief supplies, and disseminate information on health issues such as dengue, hygiene and providing psychological support.
Shortly after, Cyclone Renee wreaked smaller scale havoc on Penrhyn with 16 houses loosing their roofs. Trained in first aid, the Red Cross branch president and family there were able to carry out the response operation with the local branch volunteers, with relief supplies deployed by the RNZAF Hercules.
The Cook Islands Red Cross Counseling and Support program has also been implemented in almost all southern and northern group islands. Through this program, youth peer educators, community and Red Cross responders have been trained in basic communication and counseling skills, so they can better share information and provide support to their families, friends, community, and others, in their personal lives, and in times of need.
We have much to thank the Cook Islands Red Cross staff and volunteers for here at home and internationally.
In doing so we acknowledge and pay tribute to the seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement - Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Universality, Unity. -Prime Minister, Hon Henry Puna

Cook Islands athletes win medals in Australia
On the weekend of 3 & 4 December 2011 was held the 2011 Australian All Schools Championship in Brisbane, Australia. This Athletics meet brings together athletes from all over Australia to represent each of their States.
Competing in the under 18 Mens Shot Put were Cook islanders Tepai Moeroa & Latham Takau. Moeroa, hailing from Sydney, New South Wales & Takau from Brisbane, Queensland have been competing against each other since before they were teenagers & have become friends and friendly rivals.
Throwing a 5kg Shot Put, Gold was won by Tepai Moroa with a put of 18.62m and Silver going to Latham Takau with a throw 17.75m.

Success for ‘Writers Bloc’ Collective

Rarotonga’s newest writers collective, cheekily named ‘Writers Bloc’, had its first creative writing session on Monday 5 December. ‘Writers Bloc’ was formed as part of a two-day Creative Writing Workshop held over 23-24 November at USP. The workshop participants formed the group under the guidance of workshop tutors Miria Rei George and Hone Kouka.
The collective was set up to provide a forum for budding and experienced writers alike to share, discuss, critique and gain inspiration around all forms of writing and its related art forms. As well as the monthly sessions, there is also a Facebook page set up for members of the group to communicate and share between sessions. The first session included the showing of a short film, a simple writing exercise, group discussion on each participant’s work, as well a simple exercise to work on before the next meeting. The most vital function of the group’s sessions is to get locals writing as much as possible - on this note, the group’s first meeting was successful and the reaction of each participant was positive.
Keen writers from all walks of life are welcome to attend any of the ‘Writers Bloc’ sessions, which are to be held on the first Monday of every month. The exception to that will be the next session, which is planned for the second Monday of January to allow for the public holidays around the Christmas and New Year period. The group meets at the office of the Cook Islands National Council of Women, and anyone interested in participating can contact the Cook Islands Herald office for more information. -Ngariki Ngatae

H-Factor’ Seeking the X-Factor

We’re looking for the next top Cook Island artist of 2012.” This was the description given by Cook Island singing sensation Ngamarama Terekia for the latest talent search of the Cook Islands, ‘The H-Factor’. Terekia has joined forces with Destiny Tara-Tolevu and Thomas Ngauru to form Akatini Productions, who will stage the event at Hidies Bar in Cooks Corner.
The H-Factor, named “H” after the venue itself, is a competition for Cook Island singers to showcase their talent and will run for five weeks over February and March of 2012. Auditions are planned for the end of January, but final announcements with information on auditions can be expected in early 2012. Although entrants must be at least 18 years of age, Ngauru encouraged people to get in touch and find out more about The H-Factor. “We’re definitely looking for new talent. The whole idea of the competition is not only to give you an opportunity to showcase your talent as a singer, but also for [people] out there to see what Cook Islanders have to offer.”
The main prize up for grabs for the winner is a recording contract, however there will also be cash prizes available, which will be announced closer to the start date of the competition. The judges are still to be confirmed, however Ngauru noted that there will also occasionally be guest judges invited onto the show. In a first for the Cook Islands, the show will be televised in four outer islands in addition to its screening in Rarotonga - Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke and Atiu. For more information on the H-Factor contact Akatini Productions on 57780 or 57163. -Ngariki Ngatae

Cook Island umpire heading to New Zealand
The game of cricket in the Cook Islands continues to strengthen and grow. Cook Islands Cricket Association (CICA) has announced that Avatiu cricketer Brendon Fiebig will be the first Cook Islands-based umpire to officiate in a New Zealand senior secondary schools tournament. The opportunity for Fiebig has been offered as part of a CICA program that is being run in partnership with Northern Districts Cricket in New Zealand. The program is the Umpires Development Program and was an agreement reached between the two associations in October of this year. The tournament itself will be held this month in Gisborne.
CICA’s close relationship with Northern Districts Cricket has offered many opportunities for local cricketers in the game both here in the Cook Islands and overseas. CICA CEO Alister Stevic acknowledged Northern Districts Operations Manager, Pat Malcon, who he described as being “passionate” about seeing the game grow in the Cook Islands. Stevic emphasised, however, that without the support and partnership of Chris McGeown and his team at the Edgewater Resort and Spa, many of the opportunities available through Northern Districts Cricket would not be utilised. McGeown elaborated on the partnership. “We help out. We provide accommodation packages and some funding to bring up the overseas umpires and special players to achieve the objectives of growing the game within the Cook Islands.” Stevic hoped to see that partnership continue positively. “For Cook Islands Cricket to work toward its goal of gaining ICC Associate status and performing on the international stage, we must continue to strengthen relationships and think outside the box for opportunities to develop local talent.”
Fiebig has been involved in cricket for most of his life, but it has only been since he arrived in the Cook Islands in January of this year that he has become qualified as a level three umpire. Fiebig commented, “As I get older I guess my playing days become less and less. I’d like to stay in the game, so I see umpiring as one of those ways of doing it. I’m very passionate about cricket.” Kory Patia of CICA added, “We look forward to Brendon coming back and from his experiences sharing that with the local Cook Islands cricket community. Especially in terms of umpiring, we look forward to what he has to offer and we know that he’s going to learn quite a lot.” -Ngariki Ngatae

The Week of our Lives!
With the exams finally over, all the juniors had decided to celebrate with activities week! We could all take a huge breath of relief. Schoolwork behind us, we could now move forward with the fun! Last week Tuesday we had to choose our options for next year, so that it wouldn’t bother us when we return to school in February. I just hope that I made the right choices, because I don’t want to end up coming last for those options, so, fingers crossed. I’m going to major those subjects for sure! Nek minnit…lolz.
Last week Wednesday, it was basically a clean-up for the school. (This is why I was a smart girl and stayed home on that day) I got a lot of negative feedback from the students who attended school on that particular day, saying that they were suffering from broken backs because they had to shift furniture around. I really felt for those kids.lolz. On Thursday, the school got the golden opportunity to go to the movies! Like, how cool is that?! WOW! (This is me being sarcastic, because I didn’t attend school on this day either) Some brainy kids snuck out of the movies and went “shopping”. I won’t name anybody though, or else they’ll jump me.
Finally, I get to talk about Friday! I wasn’t going to go to school on this day, but something was telling me that it was going to be FUN, even though the weather sucked. So I arrive to school, thinking that everything was going to be fine…nek minnit, I find myself all alone, looking like a lost fool who didn’t know her way around. Almost NO Year 10 students had come to school. Already, I was beginning to regret the decision I made. I went and sat by my sorry self and just looked at all the measly kids that WERE at school. Gradually, more kids started to pour in, and then I spotted ONE Year 10 student (who goes by the name of Jamie Riro. You rock!) And I went and sat with him.
My other mates started to come as well. One even came with his own transport (whose name I am forbidden to share with you, dear reader). I went with him to the Social Centre. To be honest, the place looked DEAD. Another friend joined us with her vehicle (again, I am not allowed to share her name with you). The place started filling up with rowdy kids. Some smart people brought their mats, igloos and gazebos along with them. The fabulous Mrs. Herman wanted us to build…wait for it…sandcastles. At first we were like “Uhmm, no. You build a sandcastle while we chill out.” But it was actually quite fun, with everybody getting down and dirty. Our beautiful creation was a turtle, which won the Sandcastle Competition. Afterwards, everybody headed down to the sea for an epic swim. There was sports and food galore. All too quickly, the day came to an end. Everybody went home, satisfied with the week. -Norma Ngatamariki

When big can be good
On Tuesday morning, local artist Maria File put up a new work in the Art Gallery in Club Bana at the Banana Court.
It is a large, impressive work (6ftx4ft) in acrylic on canvas depicting in some detail three hibiscus flowers close up.
What is unusual is that it is completed all in grey and is the latest of three large works in grey.
Maria has 9 other works at the Club Bana Gallery, eight smaller works are in colour. All works bar one are of flowers. As well she has a number of prints for sale which are very reasonably priced at around $20, cards at around $5 and miniature originals priced at around $45. The prints, cards and miniatures are all a size suitable for packing into a suitcase.
A busy artist, Maria’s studio and her other sales outlet is at Punanga Nui Market (across from the children’s playground)and the artist is usually there most days of the week.
Maria says she’s discovered big artworks can be put to good use as several large works when suspended side by side from a ceiling can make for an impressive room partition.
The Club Bana Gallery also features works by other Cook Islands artists including Jean Humphries and Joan Gragg. - Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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